PC Magazine- Android aimed at feature phones, not smartphones


Android_logoPC Magazine has published an interesting article about the upcoming HTC Dream Android phone that claims Android is just a distraction.  The author makes the good observation that Google and HTC are not directing this phone to compete with smartphones, rather it’s going after the feature phone market.  This is in line with what I have said all along about Android.  Google is a household word, everybody that uses a phone already uses Google so having a Google-based phone is an easy fit.  The big sales numbers are in the regular phone, or feature phone, market segment, not the tiny (by comparison) smartphone market segment.

Android is open source so as the author states the big high-end feature phone makers, Samsung and LG, can use Android to update their flagging OS and yet still customize it to the carrier involved.  I agree heartily with this and have often stated that the average consumer could care less about smartphone or feature phone, they just want to do the things they need to do on their phone.  It will also be a comfort to have the Google logo on the phone, after all, we all use it every day.



Why is this considered strange?

The Iphone was basically a feature phone until the app store came out.

Cody B

I will say it right now, I did not read PC Mags article. Now with that out of the way.

I can see android takeover the feature phone space. Why would a phone maker want to use their old OS or develop a new one when someone already did the work for them? All they need to do is dumb android down to a version that runs great on the cheap phone. Android is an open source OS. It can be compiled to fill any need. The fact that Androids core can have anything added to it to fill the need makes it very powerful. That would mean that an app for the feature phone version would most likely work for a Smartphone version of android. A developer would only have to modify the UI to make the app work for a touch screen phone (think WinMobile pocket PC) or a directional pad phone (think feature phone or WinMobile Smartphone).

Distraction? I don’t think so.


After looking at the linked article’s byline (“Do we really need another phone platform and cascade of proprietary apps?”), I’m going to respond to it by saying, “Yes.” Just to be really straightforward, I think it’s clear that Android is going to be second (or third) in line for giving people a centralized App store accessible on a cellular network. First: the Jailbreak community. Second: Apple. Third: Android. Fourth: everyone else except… Fifth: WM.

The strength of the first app store (cydia) is that it was first. The strength of the second is Apple’s existing content distribution network (i.e., the iTunes Store and MobileMe), their ability to mass produce and sell vast quantities of the same hardware devices, and their easy-to-use UI. The strength of Android will be the sheer size of the development community (open source), interoperability with numerous hardware platforms, and the strength of Google’s existing content distribution network (Google Maps, Youtube, GTalk, etc.) and the distribution networks of Amazon, Netflix, etc.

If this is the best-constructed argument against Android at this point, I’m going to have to stick with the opinion that Android is going to act like a virus, spread to lots of existing smartphones, further break the hold of cell carriers over allowable software, and dig into cell carriers’ attempt to set up a real content distribution network.

So I don’t think Mr. Ulanoff is right in his thinking. I do think Android is going to be chaotic to watch and will take some time to get going, and that people will be debating about how successful it is. All I can say is, whenever I look at a new phone release like the HTC Touch HD, I think about how it would work as an Android phone.

Kevin Hughes

I’m not sure Apple’s iPhone really dominates the market, they dominate the hype for sure, but where the functionality is really used is in business and there blackberry and winmo rule.

Android as a feature phone OS sounds ideal as it will allow manufacturers to provide the features we have all come to expect without restricting consumers to certain models / tariffs.


The PC Magazine article doesn’t make much sense. It says that Android is really targeting not the 19% of phones that are “smartphones” but the 81% of phones that are “not smartphones.” Then the article says, “In fact, at that point the whole idea of ‘feature phone’ goes away. The ultracheap, voice-only phones will stay with low-end OSs, but pretty much every other handset that costs more than $50 with a contract will be a smartphone.” How does this make Android a distraction? The article claims it will take over more of the market than all of the smartphone OSs combined. That doesn’t sound like much of a distraction.

Everyone has noted how Google has churned out a bunch of online services that don’t seem to make money, like Google Reader, Maps, Docs, etc. But I know, now that I have an iPhone 3G, that Google services work the best with Mobile Safari.

A phone that let’s you download and install apps, surf the internet with a full HTML browser, and use all of your Google online services sounds like a smartphone. A phone has GPS and a fast data connection and has a keyboard sounds like a smartphone. An OS that takes most feature phones and turns them into smartphones sounds pretty powerful. Similarly, an OS that theoretically can and almost certainly will be installed on basically every WM phone made in the past 3 years (let’s say) sounds pretty powerful. The fact that someone has pointed out that there is an even larger market share than smartphones to be had by Android by turning non-smartphones into smartphones doesn’t really change that.


The Andriod sounds interesting but i doubt it would top the Apple Iphone, they dominate the market at the moment.


so can we expect android phone from HTC thats feature phone priced, and not branded to any one operator?!

now that would be killer (it may even kill of HTC’s own sales of winmobs tho)…

maybe ill wait a bit with replacing my current SE then…

Comments are closed.